Citizens’ and artists’ Rights in the Digital Age Immediate and urgent solutions
A broad coalition from over 20 countries made of citizens, users, consumers, organizations, artists, hackers, members of the free culture movement, economists, lawyers, teachers, students, researchers, scientists, activists, workers, unemployed people, entrepreneurs, creators…,
Invites all citizens to make this Charter theirs, share it and put it into practice.
We invite all governments, multinationals and institutions to pay attention to it, understand it and enforce it.
We are in the midst of a revolution in the way that knowledge and culture are created, accessed and transformed. Citizens, artists and consumers are no longer powerless and isolated in the face of the content production and distribution industries: now individuals across many different spheres collaborate, participate and decide in a direct and democratic way.
Digital technology has bridged the gap, allowing ideas and knowledge to flow. It has done away with many of the geographic and technological barriers to sharing. It has provided new educational tools and stimulated new possibilities for social, economic and political organisation. This revolution is comparable to the far-reaching changes brought about by the invention of the printing press.
In spite of these transformations, the entertainment industry, most communications service providers, governments and international bodies still base the sources of their profits and power on controlling tools and distribution channels for what they call “content”. They present this approach as the only possible model for how a digital society can deal with culture. This leads to restrictions on citizens’ rights to education, access to information, culture, science and technology; Freedom of expression; inviolability of communications and privacy; Freedom to share.
In deciding copyright policy, the general interest shall take priority over the specific private interests.
Today’s institutions, industries, structures and conventions will not survive into the future unless they adapt to the changes that result from digital era. Some, however, will alter and refine their methods in response to the new realities, and we need to take account of this.
Free culture (free as in “Freedom”, not as “for Free”) opens up the possibility of new models for citizen engagement in the provision of public goods and services. These are based on a ‘commons’ approach. ‘Governing of the commons’ refers to negotiated rules and boundaries for managing the collective production and stewardship of and access to, shared resources. Governing of the commons honours participation, inclusion, transparency, equal access, and long-term sustainability. We recognise the commons as a distinctive and desirable form of governing. It is not necessarily linked to the state or other conventional political institutions and demonstrates that civil society today is a potent force.
We recognize that this social economy is an important source of value, alongside the private market. The new commons, revitalised through digital technology (among other factors), enlarges the sphere of what constitutes “the economy”. Governments currently give considerable support to the private market economy; we urge them to extend to the commons the same comprehensive support that they give to the private market. A level playing field is all that the commons needs in order to start being successful.
The current financial crisis has highlighted the severe limits of some of the existing models. On the other hand, the philosophy of Free/Libre Culture, a legacy of the Free/Libre Software movement, is empirical proof that a new kind of ethics and a new way of doing business are possible. It has already created a new, workable form of production, based on crafts and trades, in which the author-producer does not lose control of the production process and can free of the need for production and distribution intermediaries. This form of production is based on collaborative entrepreneurial initiatives, on exchange according to each person’s abilities and opportunities, on the democratisation of knowledge, education and the means of production and on a fair distribution of earnings according to the work carried out.
We declare our concern for the well-being of artists, researchers, authors and other creative producers. In this Charter we propose a number of options for collectively supporting creation. Free/Libre and Open Source Software, Wikipedia, Free/Libre licensed Net Labels and certain book publishing initiatives are just some of the many examples that prove that the model of free/libre culture can sustain innovation, and that knowledge monopolies are not required for the production of knowledge goods. In cultural production, sustainability is largely dependent on the type of ‘product’ (the costs involved in making a film for example, are different from those of an online collaborative encyclopaedia). Projects and initiatives based on free/libre culture principles use a variety of ways of approaches to achieve sustainability. Some of these forms are well-established, others are still experimental. It is necessary to investigate and promote sustainable financial models that are capable of addressing digital society as it is and the new uses and values emerging from this cultural paradigm.
Economic models for sustaining cultural production include: non-monetary donations and exchange (i.e. Gift, time banks and bartering); Direct financing (i.e.: subscriptions and donations); Shared capital (i.e.: matching funds, cooperatives of producers, interfinancing / social economy, P2P banking, coining virtual money, crowd funding, open capital, community-based investment cooperatives and consumer coops); Foundations guaranteeing infrastructure for projects; Public funding (i.e.: basic incomes, mutualised funding, grants, awards, subsidies, public contracts and commissions); Private funding (i.e.: venture investment, shares, private patronage, business investment infrastructure pools); commercial activities (including goods and services) and combination of P2P distribution and low-cost streaming. The combination of these options is increasingly viable for both independent creators and industry.
There must be clear rules that promote public, sharable knowledge, protecting it from any form of exclusive appropriation by individuals or companies, and thus preventing the possibility of restrictive monopolies or oligopolies emerging from this appropriation.
The digital era holds the historic promise of strengthening justice and being rewarding for everybody.
This is the objective behind the following proposals:
National regulations and international treaties regarding the dissemination of culture and knowledge, both in private, contractual relations and in public policy, are severely flawed. Here we will propose the reforms necessary to overcome these problems.
The conservative, defensive behaviour of the copyright production and distribution industries has led to a situation in which authors and their audiences are pitted against each other. This conflict mainly benefits media conglomerates and government organisations by giving them control over global flows of information at the expense of creators and consumers. This is detrimental to the public interest.
The public interest is served by supporting and ensuring ongoing creation of intellectual works – because of their significant social value, and by ensuring that all citizens have unfettered access to such works for a wide range of uses.
Author rights, royalties and similar incentives to creativity should not be seen as an end in themselves, but rather as a creative stimulus and a means to promoting public interest.
Quotation, defined as the extraction of part, but not the entirety, of a work should be free and permited in all cases as a vehicle for the democratic development of the information society. This must apply in all cases in which the material quoted has already been made public in advance, whether it is quoted for educational or scientific reasons, for purely informational or creative purposes, or for any other purpose whatsoever.
Freedom and innovation are not opposites rather they go hand in hand. Repressive legal regimes that reduce freedom also tend to harm innovation. People need the freedom to change, modify, improve and test inventions, devices, and systems, and to freely engage in critical speech regarding such innovations.
Patents: Refer to A2K draft, Part4.
We propose a series of methods for collectively supporting artistic creation, based on the following:
Rewarding creative work and author’s rights: two different concepts
The copyright term should not exceed the minimum term set forth in the Berne Convention. We already consider the minimum Berne term unfair; in the longer term we defend shortening it. Excessive terms do not benefit consumers or authors.
There should be no restriction of the freedom to access, link to, and index any work that is already freely accessible to the public online, even if it is not under a sharable licence.
Every legal system should facilitate and promote sharable licensing to the same extent as proprietary licensing.
There should be freedom to use a copyrighted work if the copyright holder cannot be located after a due diligence search.
When accessible-format works for persons who have disabilities are created under copyright limitations and exceptions, the global legal systems should even more enable cross border import and export of such works.
The three-step test was introduced in the Berne Convention in 1967 and was later also added to the TRIPS treaty. It is a system that tends to prevent any reduction of the scope and duration of copyright. In this Charter, in keeping with a very strong legal current to prevent further erosion of the public domain, we have devised a reverse three-step test for preserving our freedoms in an information society.
Innovation, creativity, and access to knowledge may only be limited or constrained when and if the three conditions below are met simultaneously:
Imitation is the starting point for learning. We understand education as a social process that involves a wide range of educational actors, technologies, entities and activities, beyond simply the official, formal ones. Our vision of education is one which fosters an efficient and sustainable culture of knowledge sharing and educational innovation.
Education is a fundamental tool to improve our societies and achieve human progress. They need to be empowered to teach learners within the values of a sharing culture, which means, the culture of using Free/Libre and Open Source Software, and more generally of Free Knowledge. Thus we urge educational institutions and communities to:
Imitation is the starting point for learning. Copying and sharing knowledge are thus two of the founding principles of any educational process. The culture of sharing embraces these principles rather than discouraging them.
Thus we urge educational institutions and communities to use educational materials released to the public under a free/libre license, and publish such materials.
Educational resources are a basic educational tool; their sharable publication in the public domain or under a free/libre license facilitates access, stimulates improvement and participation and caters for cultural diversity, while maximising reuse and efficiency. Thus we urge educational institutions and communities to:
Free/Libre Software allows people to interact while they are studing and learning. Free/Libre Software it is not an passive model, it allows people to interact with the tools they are using since it allows to interact with the code, to study and learn about the code as well as using its features.
The use of open standards and open formats is essential to ensure technical interoperability, provide a level playing field for competing vendors, and enable seamless access to digital information and the availability of knowledge and social memory, now and in the future. We therefore declare that:
As new forms of collective production spread throughout the educational system, official accreditation and certification processes should recognise the skills and experience acquired in this way. We thus urge educational institutions and authorities to:
The barriers between learners and teachers are being lowered, and new forms of education are taking shape. Open communities and participation in peer-to-peer production processes provide enormous value for learning. We thus urge educational institutions and communities to:
Sharable Access publications ensure access to the results of scientific research, for scientists as well as the general public; they boost the possibilities for learning and they enable diverse research disciplines to remain informed of each other’s results. We therefore declare that:
Citizens have the right to:
Transparency in the enforcement process is required in order to avoid the breach of any fundamental rights (e.g. invasion of privacy, freedom of expression, etc.). This must include details on the authorities in charge of applying the law and on the reasons for the mandatory procedures. Governments should ensure, through a transparent and public process, the existence of systems that evaluate how the norms are applied. The results published by the independent experts hired to carry out the evaluation (see – database directive) should be taken into consideration in the norm-setting process. A meaningful way to ensure the transparency process is to implement obligatory transparency audits.
We would be glad to endorse a “three-strikes system” for violators of the public right to be informed, if one is designed. There is a public interest in transparency of lobbying activities. A transparent process in national and international norm-setting needs to include at least: